Don’t look to the electors to upend Trump victory
washington » There’s more hustle than hope behind an effort to derail Donald Trump’s presidency in the Electoral College.
Republican electors are being swamped with pleas to buck tradition and cast ballots for someone else at meetings across the country Monday that are on course to ratify Trump as the winner. AP interviews with more than 330 electors from both parties found little appetite for a revolt.
Whether they like Trump or not, and some plainly don’t, scores of the Republicans chosen to cast votes in the statecapital meetings told AP they feel bound by history, duty, party loyalty or the law to rubber-stamp their state’s results and make him president. Appeals numbering in the tens of thousands — drowning inboxes, ringing cellphones, stuffing home and office mailboxes with actual handwritten letters — have not swayed them.
The interviews found widespread Democratic aggravation with the electoral process but little expectation that the rush of anti-Trump maneuvering can stop him. For that to happen, Republican-appointed electors would have to stage an unprecedented defection.
Still, people going to the typically hohum electoral gatherings have been drawn into the rough-and-tumble of campaign-season politics. Republicans are being beseeched to revolt in a torrent of lobbying, centered on the arguments that Clinton won the popular vote and that Trump is unsuited to the presidency. Most of it is falling on deaf ears, but it has also led to some acquaintances being made across the great political divide.
“Let me give you the total as of right now: 48,324 e-mails about my role as an elector,” said Brian Westrate, a smallbusiness owner and GOP district chairman in Fall Creek, Wisc. “I have a Twitter debate with a former porn star from California asking me to change my vote. It’s been fascinating.”
Even a leader of the anti-Trump effort, Bret Chiafalo of Everett, Wash., calls it a “losing bet” — but one he says the republic’s founders would want him to make. “I believe that Donald Trump is a unique danger to our country and the Founding Fathers put the Electoral College in place to, among other things, stop that from happening,” said Chiafalo, 38, an Xbox network engineer who backed Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries.
It takes 270 electoral votes to make a president. Despite losing the national popular vote, Trump won enough states to total 306 electoral votes. He would need to see three dozen fall away for him to lose his majority. Only one Republican elector told AP he won’t vote for Trump.
Over the sweep of history, so-called faithless electors — those who vote for someone other than their state’s popular-vote winner — have been exceptionally rare.